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Two Years After Obergefell, Their Family Is Still “Split Down the Middle” Beth & Krista
Senate Doubles Down on Anti-LGBT Amendment to HB 159 March 23, 2017

Sen. Ligon willing to jeopardize urgently needed adoption bill to advance anti-LGBT agenda

ATLANTA – Legislators in the Senate are doubling down on a discriminatory amendment that threatens to derail HB 159, despite widespread opposition that includes Governor Nathan Deal. The amendment to the legislation would allow adoption agencies receiving taxpayer funds to discriminate against same-sex couples and LGBT people. The Judiciary Committee passed HB 159 with Ligon’s amendment late last week, and the bill was remanded back to the committee on Tuesday with the understanding that the amendment should be stripped. But it now appears unlikely that the Judiciary Committee will make the necessary changes, meaning it could advance to the Senate floor in the coming days with the discriminatory measure intact.

“It’s astonishing that a handful of lawmakers are willing to put the wellbeing of more than 10,000 orphans and foster kids in jeopardy,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality. “Every child in our state deserves a safe home with nurturing parents, and every agency that receives taxpayer dollars has an obligation to place those children in homes with loving parents. That’s all that matters. It’s jarring that in 2017, we’re looking at legislation that is this blatantly anti-family and anti-LGBT.”

The bill’s GOP author, Rep. Bert Reeves, joined child welfare advocates in condemning the discriminatory amendment. Governor Deal made it clear he had no patience for an anti-LGBT amendment: “I certainly don’t want that to happen, and I would hope they would reconsider the addition to this language that could put the whole bill in jeopardy.”

The Metro Atlanta Chamber and Georgia Chamber of Commerce oppose the amendment – and other businesses in are speaking out as well.

“First Data is based in Atlanta and we are proud to call Georgia home. However, we are strongly opposed to HB 159 in its current form, the proposed legislation in Georgia that we believe perpetuates discrimination against the LGBT community,’ said Cindy Armine-Klein, First Datat’s Chief Control Officer. “First Data is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace that promotes fairness and diversity, and the proposed legislation violates our core belief that all Americans deserve to be treated equally and respectfully. We ask that the legislature fix this bill.”

“Once again, we find ourselves at the end of a legislative session where a handful of senators are attempting to rush through a discriminatory bill that our governor, businesses, and so many other stakeholders across this state oppose,” added Graham. “Lawmakers have a responsibility to their constituents, and a responsibility to do what’s best for this state. It’s clear that some lawmakers value anti-LGBT discrimination more than anything else.”

The Georgia Unites coalition is asking supporters to contact their senators to express opposition to the dangerous amendment to HB 159. More information is available here.

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